Guide to Buying Books Online for the First Time

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Buying books from the internet for the first time can both be a daunting and rewarding experience. Will I get the right books? Will they look good? When will they arrive? You will be asking yourself a lot of questions even before you have actually ordered the books. And when you actually get your hands on the books, the feeling can be a bit surreal: the thing that you saw on your computer is now in your hands!

Here are five steps that can make that first experience smoother and with less unpleasant surprises:

1. Search for the Book Title

Go to the websites of credible bookstores online and search for the title of the book that you want to purchase. Among the highly trusted online stores that sell books are Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Book Depository. A lot of online booksellers also list their products on eBay. When you find the book that you want to buy, read its content summary, the number of pages, the publication date, and its cost. Do not buy the cheapest one right away or close the other browser windows just yet — you will be needing them for comparisons later.

2. Look for the Latest Edition

Make sure what you found is the latest edition of the book. Latest book editions typically have corrections, revisions, and additional content in them that are not to be found in previous editions. Look at the publication date and the author’s name. If possible, right-click on the author’s name and open it on a new window. The resulting page usually lists the books written by the same author. If the book has a newer edition, it will be listed on that page. You need to do this because there are rare cases when later book editions have different titles. This is especially true with non-fiction books.

3. Read the Book Reviews

If the online bookstore has a reviews section below each book, read the reviews for the book that you want to buy. You can learn a lot from book reviewers about the book. Specifically look for reviews about the print quality, book content, formatting, and font size. If the book is non-fiction, look for reviews about its table of contents and index. After reading the book, you never know when you will want to jump straight back into a specific topic and a good book should be able to provide you excellent navigation guides to review quickly what you have read.

4. Compare the Book Prices

Whether you found out that the book has a newer edition or not, decide which one to buy based on the content summary and the prices listed on the websites of the online bookstores. Newly released books are usually more expensive than the older ones. However, there have been situations where the price gap between older and newer editions is not that much or the latest editions are cheaper because the author or the publishing company really wants their readers and customers to purchase the latest edition of the book because of some important corrections or additional content. But there have also been circumstances where there have been insignificant changes between editions and the older editions are cheaper.

5. Study the Shipping Details

Do you plan to buy only one book or more than one book? The shipping cost will depend on your answer to that question. Online bookstores have different shipping systems put in place. If you want to buy more than one book, some online sellers will send you the books in one package yet there are others that will send them to you in separate shipping. The good news, is trusted online booksellers usually have a dedicated page that tells their customers what shipping options are available to them and how to calculate the total cost for their purchases. Look for that page so you will not be surprised why the online seller charged you beyond the listed book price and shipping (for example, check this page from Amazon). There are also booksellers that offer free shipping, but you will need to find out if they send books in one package or in separate shipping.

We hope you will enjoy your first book purchase online. By following the steps above, we are sure you will be able to keep unexpected surprises at the minimum when you buy your first book or books online and you will be able to order your succeeding books more smoothly. Happy reading!